Indianara is a veteran sex worker rights activist in Rio de Janeiro. She spoke at the Observatory of Prostitution‘s extension course, A Particular Revolution: The Brazilian Prostitutes Movement, at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Sciences at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro on November 24, 2015. (Quem fala português pode assistir o video aqui ou embaixo.)
People say that prostitutes have an expiration date.
The feminists who say these kinds of things don’t realize how much they are once again oppressing women, once again using sexist expressions to describe other women. They don’t understand that they’re simply saying that, in this patriarchal, sexist society, women do have an expiration date.
When people say that prostitution makes use of your beauty and youth, this is a fallacy.
We who are prostitutes know for ourselves, that as long as women have the capacity to work – in any other profession, as a housekeeper, or a lawyer, or a professor – and we want to work, we will. If we want to keep working as a prostitute, we’re going to have less clients, or maybe different clients, maybe some younger ones who want to learn with the more experienced prostitutes like Lourdes.
This is sexism. It’s sexist to say prostitutes have an expiration date to be “used” within. It’s just another example of sexism against women.…
When feminists are shouting about how, whether or not they’re wearing short shorts, they want to be respected, “I deserve to be respected regardless of whether I’m wearing a mini-skirt”… whores have been fighting for a long time to be respected simply because they want to sell sex. Because they want to use sex as their profession.
So when people are fighting for human rights, whose rights are they fighting for? Ours too? Because we whores have already liberated ourselves from all of these societal oppressions.
That’s why I say that for me, prostitution… I was never a psychologist or a psychiatrist. My analyst’s couches were all beds, and I did all my psychoanalysis in brothels. So a piece of advice I’ll give you – because, for me, excuse me, but I look at universities as prisons. Except that you go in voluntarily.
I think it’s so funny when people spend three or four or five years to graduate, and then they want to do a master’s or doctorate degree. But only the prostitutes are exploited, right? We’re here drinking and reading books and having sex and orgasms.
That’s what we’re doing. And people like to say that you can’t charge for sex for pleasure, it can’t be commercialized.
OK, so when you are attracted to someone, you don’t go up to them with your body and say, “Take it, fuck it, climax and leave.”
No. You’re giving your body, your sexuality, your pleasure in exchange for, at the very minimum, pleasure. So there’s already an exchange happening. You’re already having sex in exchange for something. But if you try to commercialize it, that’s where the problems start.
I’ll have sex with all sorts of men for free. But the moment I charge one person, I stop being a free person with a latent sexuality, and I become that “poor person who is being exploited by the system,” who had no other option in life.
A lot of you [in the audience] work in professions you didn’t like. You can’t tell me the trash collector, running after the trash truck in the rain or sun, or at dawn, cleaning up the trash you leave all over the place, as well-mannered as you all are…
The trash collector runs all sorts of risks, all the diseases and health problems he can get [picking up trash].
But the trash collector doesn’t run the one risk I have in my profession – the risk of having an orgasm. In my profession, I run the risk of having an orgasm.
Not the trash collector. He’s going to have to pay me for his orgasm, which happens all the time. Don’t think it doesn’t happen. If you saw some of the trash deposits I’ve been to where the trash collectors leave their cars and hang out…
If I told you about the parts of Rio I’ve been to, the places I’ve had sex… here at IFCS [The Institute of Philosophy and Social Sciences at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro], or at other universities, behind closed doors with security guards, or museums where I went to see the art and ended up picking up a client…. I was even talking with Soraya [Simões, professor at IFCS and organizer of the Observatory of Prostitution] about curating a tour of all the places I’ve been.
I know the other side of history. I know the museums through another lens you all haven’t seen. You know those places that say “Under Construction”, like they have at the Museu de História do Rio de Janeiro? When you get to the top of the staircase where it says, “Under Renovation – Dangerous – No Trespassing”?
It’s not that dangerous, because the security guards make me trespass and go back there.
I don’t understand why it’s so “dangerous” for the public in general to trespass and go back there.
So that’s how it is. When you tell a story from a person’s own perspective, a story that tells their actual opinions, you see that we’re all over the culture and history of civilization, it’s just that our stories aren’t told.
Take the song, O Mundo é um Moinho, for example, by Cartola. He wrote that song for his daughter, who became a prostitute and a drug addict.
This actually brings up another caution we have to take. People like to say that a lot of people in prostitution use alcohol or drugs to deal with the work.
[Thaddeus Blanchette: “But not in the universities!”]
But not in the universities.
People! I am here all the time, I have a number of friends who are academics.
I don’t use cocaine, for example. All of my drugs are legal: beer, whiskey, caipirinhas, coffee, sugar. All my drugs are legal. But the number of university professors, students and directors that use cocaine? [Laughs]
An addiction is when you lose control, and that’s when something becomes an addiction. It could be a Formula One driver who acts like he’s driving on the racetrack when he’s not, because he’s lost control. People who have too much sex because they’ve lost control. It becomes a problem when you lose control.
Or, not. It depends on what kind of control you’re losing, right?
But looking at prostitution through this lens [of addiction], when it is already a stigmatized, marginalized, dangerous occupation, “most people in prostitution use drugs,” that’s a lie too. Because the vast majority of society uses drugs.
And most of the drugs that prostitutes use? Don’t think that they’re going directly to the source. Most of the time it’s the clients who bring the drugs. It’s clients bringing them, or asking them if they know anyone they can buy drugs from. It’s their clients.
And don’t think that clients are extra-terrestrials that descend from UFOs, that clients and prostitutes come down from the UFOs to have sex with us and leave.
No. It could be your father.
Don’t worry. It’s the same man who kisses you on the forehead in the morning on your way to school or work. It’s the same man who puts you to bed. It’s the man who holds your hand walking down the street. It’s the same man who gives you a ring and gives you his name. “Now I’m going to give you my name.”
It’s the same man who introduces you to his family.
It’s your fiance. And while you’re out running to the seamstress for your wedding dress like crazy people, getting your wedding cakes, he’s planning his bachelor party with his friends, where we’re going to be invited and treated like queens.
It’s these men. Your fathers, your sons, your uncles, your grandfathers and great-grandfathers. For me, I’ve had generations of the same family as clients. Imagine how many generations Lourdes has gotten to know?
While their wives are in the hospital or at home giving birth, their husbands are with us in bed, lying between our legs, wondering, “Is it going to be a girl or a boy?”
They’re with us to celebrate when their child is born, or when their team wins. We know how all sorts of films or TV series are going to end before you do, because of the directors who tell us in bed how it’s going to end.
It’s all of these men of the sacrosanct global family who are our clients. So don’t worry about it.
So it’s your family that shares our bed with us. Your dad who shares our bed with us.